First Frontier Entrepreneur a Winner at Big Idea Contest

by | Jun 19, 2020 | News

On June 18, 2020 six finalists in the Southern Alleghenies region participated in Ben Franklin’s $50,000 BIG IDEA Contest including the First Frontier Blair County’s own Sam Thurau of HHG Drums.  Sam tied for second place and he took home $12,500 for his Big Idea!!!

HHG Drums creates handmade drums with character and presence.  HHG has built a solid foundation of domestic and international sales, building on Sam’s passion for both percussion and woodworking. Every build starts with the highest quality, hand selected materials that is milled in house from its rough-cut form, to perfectly square, flat, and true stock, ready to begin the process of becoming a drum. Sam’s Big Idea is to transition elements of the time-consuming and high-skill hand tool drum making process into a custom automated CNC machine and process.

With this award and by automating the solid-wood production process, Sam will be able to compete in the mid-price range and enter a new segment of the drum market.  Currently, no other manufacturer is pricing solid wood drums in the mid-price range due to the high costs of custom manufacturing. Most other drum makers (Pearl, Ludwig, Yamaha, etc.) make their wood drums out of laminated wood making him the first to market with a mid-priced solid wood drum.

“We are incredibly humbled being part of the award winners in the BIG IDEA Contest. The process of working with Rich Lasek, the First Frontier team, Startup Alleghenies and Ben Franklin Technology partners has been one of the most valuable moments for the business,” said Sam Thurau, owner of HHG Drums. “We have gained an incredible amount of insight into what it means to be a successful business and how to get there from where we are now. We are grateful for the investment in our company and can’t wait to start they next chapter of our journey and continuing to thrive here in the First Frontier Blair County.”

“Working with Sam and his team at HHG Drums has been rewarding seeing the transition and progress in business planning, ingenuity and vision towards seeing their dreams become reality,” said Rich Lasek, Entrepreneurial Coach for Blair County. “The dedication Sam puts into every piece of wood, every design and every sound of an HHG Drum is a testament to the uniqueness of the company and I look forward to seeing the next stages of his growth.”

The Big Idea Contest was open to early stage companies and prospective entrepreneurs with innovative ideas within manufacturing and technology. This round of the contest was open to companies located in the Southern Alleghenies counties of Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Huntingdon, Somerset and Fulton. The six finalists were Timothy & April Kretchman with Action Driven Education (first-place winner of $25,000), Sam Thurau with HHG Drums (tied for second place and winner of $12,500),Mary Kate Zima with Nurse Navigator Solutions LLC (tied for second place and winner of $12,500), Ankit Patel with Meerya LLC (people’s choice winner of $2,500), Duncan Everhart with Hinterland Tools LLC, and Travis Lodolinski with On Air Inc.

If you have an idea you’re itching to launch, you can check out and learn how to properly get your inventions out there! To discuss your Big Idea or for any assistance with your small business and entrepreneurial efforts contact Rich Lasek today!

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